While government is pushing for the empowerment of women in all positions of influence within the economy, one, Mercy Situmbeko Education, Training and Development Manager at Nampower, believes that education and willingness to learn should be a key driver in women’s emancipation.
Situmbeko who has served Nampower for almost seven years believes women should have a learning attitude if they are to be considered for positions which are usually patriarchal.
“Ladies must have a learning attitude and never stop learning as well as opening up yourselves to people who want to share their knowledge and experience with you. Develop yourself continuously because learning is not confined to the classroom, there is always something new to learn and also share your knowledge with others”, she stated.
Situmbeko who strongly believes in inspiring other young women also mentions that there a need to sponsor and support the girl child in terms of education for more women to make it into the cooperate world and to be successful.
“We need to change our thinking as a society in terms of what we define as jobs or careers fit for women or men. A women is still frowned upon if she chooses a career over mother-hood. Women are multi-taskers and we can do both. At the NamPower Training Centre, we have some female trainees who are actually the top performers in these technical fields,” she says.
Situmbeko further notes that, “commitment to provide financial support for women to study further,” adding that, “Nampower is fully committed to gender empowerment because knowledge and education tends to empower and boast confidence”.
Through hard work and the ability to learn, she now owns a Master’s Degree in Business Administration, Psychometrics Private Practice and registered with the Health Professions Council of South Africa.
She is also equipped with an Honors in Psychology, Post Graduate certificate in Dispute Resolutions (Labour Relations) and Certificate in Qualifications, Standards and Curriculum Development.
Her first job was at the Vocational Counsellor in the Employment Planning Section of the Ministry of Labour where she worked with a team embarking on research on careers in Namibia and drafted the first and second edition of Careers in Namibia book to inform schools and kids everywhere of careers/ jobs and the requirements in almost all industries.
“We also conducted psychometric assessments for career guidance.
Human Resources Systems Analyst at the Office of the Prime Minister and worked as the assistant to the Ambassador on Protocol Issues and Bilateral Affairs in English for 5 years (2003 – 2008) at the Embassy of Spain,” she explains.
In 2009, she then joined NamPower as a Senior Organization Development Analyst, focusing on the implementation of Performance Management Process, Psychometrics and Training Coordination.
In 2010 she decided to stretch her career by being a lecturer at Namibian University of Science and Technology (NUST) until 2015. This year, she was appointed as a member of the NUST Board of Directors. “In 2013, took over the newly created Education, Training and Development Section,” Situmbeko says.
She is currently responsible for all training except high voltage training including employee’s skills up grading processes for employees across the country.
“Each day is totally different. I am based at the NamPower Training Centre, a vocational school in the Northern Industrial Area. I am responsible for all training (except High Voltage Training) including employees’ skills up grading processes for employees across the country. This makes each day’s activities and focus totally different. One certain thing is that my job keeps me fit because I am always running between offices literally,” she explains.
Although she finds her job interesting on a day to day basis, she faces challenges such as discrimination based on her age and gender because she graduated at 19 years old and immediately started working.
Situmbeko stresses that, “I have been told I am too young or too soft to take over a promotional position or head a project. This aided me in continuously developing myself and ensuring that I was always well informed and knew what I talked about and proving that age or gender had no negative influence on a person’s capability and attitude.
This also taught me how to be objective, assertive (firm) yet not disrespectful nor aggressive in my communication”.
Although nothing has managed to discourage Situmbeko in working hard she still believes that women need to work twice as hard as men to prove that they are capable.
However she emphasizes that she was lucky to have a strong support structure from Nampower saying that, “I work with a great team. Two of greatest Technical Training Officers who have willingly shared their technical (electrical general & fitting & turning) knowledge with me, an IT skills facilitator who gives me the confidence not to worry and stress about the NamPower IT training section, a Senior ETD Coordinators, 2 graduate ETD Coordinators whom I give a hard time (as part of their learning) but they are eager to learn”.
She further notes that, “One thing that I commend NamPower for is the commitment to develop and create conducive on the job learning environment for the employees. NamPower has given me the greatest opportunity to study, and expand my knowledge, on the job or through actual classroom learning”.
She also adds that she has been awarded the freedom to initiate and implement new processes which benefit both the company and employees which also helped her grow professionally and personally.